Journal

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May 1st is International Pilates Day!

May 1st is International Pilates Day and the start of a new month-long class series and we’re celebrating at Springboard with an open house, free 30 minute classes, a sidewalk sale, and more! We’ll have in-studio, outdoor, and virtual offerings to meet each of you at your comfort level as we proceed to a new normal. Check out the day’s lineup and join us for some fun!

THROUGHOUT THE EVENT:

  • Open House
  • FREE classes (see the schedule below)
  • In-person help with registration for May classes
  • Sidewalk Sale with 20% off store merchandise (including our softest hoodie)
  • 10% off Declining Balances (Pay only $450 and get $500 on your account – FREE MONEY!)

Pre-register for free Pilates Day classes to guarantee your spot. Walk-in spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure to register to receive the Zoom link to the hybrid classes if you’re participating virtually!

TIMECLASSDETAILS
9:30-10amOUTDOOR All Levels Mat with DaveMeet at Springboard and we’ll walk together.
Bring a mat or towel for the grass.
10-10:30amIN STUDIO Advanced Wunda Chair with Ash
10:30-11amOUTDOOR All Levels Small Ball Mat with Leslie
**Wescustogo Park in North Yarmouth**
Outdoors in North Yarmouth at Wescustogo
Park. $20 suggested donation benefits
Bates Dance Festival
and includes a ball to take home!
11-11:30amHYBRID Level I/II Mat with EmmyIn studio or online—your choice!
11:30am-12pmOUTDOOR All Levels Stability Ball Mat with CathrynMeet at Springboard and we’ll walk together.
Stability ball provided.
Bring a mat or towel for the grass.
12-12:30pmHYBRID All Levels Reformer with MeredithIn studio or online—your choice!
12:30-1pmIN STUDIO All Levels Intro to Reformer with AshThe perfect way to try out the reformer equipment!

All are welcome! Contact Meredith if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you there!

Ski (Up)lift

“Feet, feet, feet! All I’ve been tellin’ ya about today is feet! Okay?” I look over at the slight man wearing a royal blue ski instructor parka. He is grinning fiercely back at me, his brown eyes blazing in a deeply tanned face. We’re about the same height, the instructor and I, and we’re standing ski pole to ski pole, facing a double runner lift across the field of smooth white. To our right, a quick scoot away, is Sugarloaf’s Base Lodge, where almost two hours ago I was fitted for downhill skis, boots, poles, and a helmet in the rental shop.

My husband and I and our college pal had cut it close getting to the mountain in time for the beginner group lesson I’d signed up for, and the kind resort staff had done their best to keep me moving quickly. They’d radioed ahead as soon as I’d told them I was registered – “Yep, Cathryn Douglass is headed your way, puffy blue coat” – and one nice gentleman swiftly helped me with all my equipment, almost literally picking me up to stuff my feet into what looked like new Head boots.

I was glad for the hurrying, for the distraction, because I was trying to ignore the not insignificant dread I felt about getting on downhill skis again. In my mind, I was still a scrawny 8-year-old girl in a bulky purple parka from Sears, taking her first ski lesson at a small hill in western Massachusetts. Weighed down in uncomfortable boots, trying to put on a brave face, I’d felt stiff and scared and like I didn’t belong. I had longed for my mom, sitting in the warm lodge waiting for her kids, to come out and get me and take me back home.


********

Harold, my instructor, is cheerful, older-looking, and radiates vigorous energy. Late season skiing on a weekday, post-school vacation, means that there are no crowds, and no other sign-ups for the 10am group. I will be getting a private session. What an incredible treat!

We shake hands inside the shop, then make our way outside to the overcast, windless day. As he helps me get each boot clicked into my ski binding, he asks me how I’d describe my level of experience. I tell him my background: I am a Pilates teacher, a cyclist, and a runner, and for several years when I was a teenager, I competed on my high school’s Nordic ski team. I share with him that I feel I have pretty good balance, a strong core, and a decent understanding of human anatomy and movement. I tell him this is just my third time on downhill skis in my entire life. I don’t tell him about the purple parka.

As we jump right into our lesson and, as is my habit, I start to ask him questions about his life, an American slang term that is used to describe a person or thing as “exceptionally good” keeps coming to my mind: crackerjack. Harold, at ninety-one years old (yes, you read that right), is the epitome of crackerjack. Things I discover about him over the course of about a dozen happy lift rides together: Harold grew up in Jay, went to Bowdoin College, enlisted in the Air Force, tried out for the Red Sox (“No, I didn’t make it. My hitting wasn’t that good”), did stock car racing for many years (“Well, I liked to go fast”), coached decades of high school baseball and football, and has spent over thirty years on Sugarloaf as a coach, ski racer, and instructor. “Oh, it was a long time ago. A long time,” he says with a little smile when I ask him when *he* learned how to ski.

In the two hours or so that I spend with my new friend, I have the sense that, as with all larger-than-life people, the tidbits he drops about himself are just scratching the surface. And lest I forget, one last detail about Harold: he has a regular tai chi practice. Of course he does!


********


The second time I was on downhill skis, at least 35 years ago, I rode a chairlift midway up a mountain with a few other kids in a youth organization I’d been a part of; it was our first run. Still a total beginner, I had no idea how – or when – to get off the lift (I had been assured it was not a big deal), and I really fumbled the dismount. I hesitated a second too long, then panicked as I felt the seat on the back of my thighs hoisting me into the air again. I launched myself off just as the haul rope was about to round the top tower and head back down, and landed on my bottom, hard. As I lay there on my back, I could feel tears of humiliation and pain welling in my eyes.

Ski patrol hustled over when I didn’t immediately get up, and I was asked several times if I wanted them to bundle me in a sled and take me off the mountain. As much as my tailbone hurt, the thought of making a further spectacle of myself was so mortifying that I pretended I was OK. I showed everyone that I could still move my legs, and then, feeling seriously defeated, started to gingerly snowplow alone down the slope. Other skiers smoothly maneuvered around me; my face and hands grew numb in the cold. As the lodge finally came into view, I gritted my teeth and made up my mind: this had been a miserable experience, and I was never going to try this sport again.


********


“Yes, kiddo! Yes! You’ve got it!” Harold crows, pumping one pole in the air as I take my last turn before coming to a gentle, controlled stop next to him. In my head, I’ve been repeating his cues, little catchphrases that have made sense to me that he has expertly layered before each run we do together: “2-4-2” (two ski edges to four edges to two edges to make a nice turn), “feet, feet, feet,” “ankles flexed,” “shins forward,” “stand on one leg, then stand on the other,” and “never feel the back of your leg in your ski boot.” It has taken me almost the whole lesson to relax my upper body and trust that keeping my weight over my skis, instead of hinging at my hips or leaning back, won’t land me right on my face. Harold keeps complimenting me regarding what I have told him about my background, citing the advantages my Pilates experience, strength, and fitness give me. “You have the makings of a very good skier,” he says, kindly, and I beam with happiness.

As I have started producing smoother and better turns on the easy slope, I’ve been reflecting on my own journey of learning to teach Pilates, and what I now know, from a little bit of experience, is most effective at helping clients learn. I tick off the things Harold does that I recognize as hallmarks of a great teacher: giving me one or two short phrases that help me instantly visualize or understand how to move by connecting me to a feeling in my body; starting with the fundamentals and sticking with them; cheerleading like crazy the moment I do what he is asking for (and thus helping me imprint that moment and feeling in my body and mind); conveying his genuine passion for the thing he’s teaching me through inspiring use of vocal tone, volume, and cadence.

I’m also having So. Much. Fun! I am glowing on the inside as I realize I am letting go. I’m letting go of the fear associated with the memory of falling off that chairlift, so many years in the past. I’m letting go of feeling clumsy and out of place in my purple parka. I’m letting go of feeling embarrassed that my family could not easily afford ski equipment and ski lessons and ski vacations. I feel open and alive to this day, and I am absolutely delighted to have met the spry nonagenarian who pushes off in front of me each time with a wave of a pole and a shout of, “Okay, Cathryn, let’s go!”

When our time is up, we reluctantly part ways, and I ski back over to the chairlift with Harold’s business card in my jacket pocket (no email; just his name, title, an address in Jay, and phone numbers for his home and office). I text my husband to ask where he and our friend are, and we plan to meet for lunch in about half an hour. I decide to do four or five more practice runs by myself, and as I get on and dismount the chairlift without feeling anxious in the least, I silently thank Harold. 

On my last ride, the gentle sway of the chairlift enhances my feeling of complete contentment. I am staring off into the trees, smiling at no one, when something moving below catches my eye. I lean forward to glimpse a snaking line of small children, all poleless, finishing their group lesson behind a young instructor. One tiny blonde girl is wearing fluttery pink fairy wings over her parka, and as they barrel toward Base Lodge, she throws her head back and lets out a wild scream of wordless glee. I feel that way, too, little ski fairy! I think to myself, and it’s all I can do not to join in with her.

********


My terrific day at Sugarloaf has taught me a valuable lesson about facing fear, and about the need to challenge the untrue and even hurtful things we sometimes think about ourselves. My fears about trying downhill skiing again were rooted in memories from a long time ago. As the years passed and I did nothing to confront those fears, I also built on them: I’m not that athletic. I don’t have the personality of a downhill skier (whatever that means). I’m clumsy. I’m not competitive. I don’t like going fast. All of those negative, silly things I believed about myself vanished into thin air when I took a deep breath, clicked into those big heavy ski boots, and followed Harold. Sometimes, this is all it takes – one two-hour ski lesson, one (fill in the blank with something from your experience) –  one *something* to push over that rickety, ancient, shaky structure you’ve built between yourself and progress.

My husband and I have decided to do one last hurrah day of spring skiing at the end of this month, again inviting our college pal to come along. When my husband suggested a few other ski areas that are a little closer, I said, “But I want Harold!” He laughed at me at first, then realized I was dead serious. I want to soak in more of that excellent teaching that could only come from a person with a lifetime of experience.

And I just straight-up enjoyed every minute of those few hours with Harold. His affability, genuine care, and encouragement helped me change how I felt about myself. That timid little girl in the purple parka is firmly in the past now, although I won’t forget her. I can’t wait to spend another glorious winter day on a snow-covered downhill slope, thinking only about my happy feet, feet, feet.

Note: I wrote that last part some weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic turned all of our lives upside down. As you may have guessed, we did not get to go back to Sugarloaf before they had to make the difficult decision to suspend all their operations. (If you, too, are a Sugarloaf fan and would like to support the local community in Carrabassett Valley, please head over to their website and scroll to the “Community Support” section at their Covid-19 Updates page.)

Reading my words again now, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for my wonderful, full life – for all of you, our wonderful clients, and for each of the fantastic teachers I get to spend time with at Springboard and whom I count as my dear friends. And I’m looking with eager eyes not just to next winter, but to a closer time when we can all begin to make our way out of our homes, see our friends and loved ones face to face, and hug, talk, and laugh.

We love you, Springboarders! Hang in there. We can’t wait to be with you again!

Personal Experience in Surviving

The current situation we, as a global community, are collectively experiencing is unprecedented for many of us. We do not have a memory from a time in our lives that we can pull from to create a personal “how to” manual on ways to live through these strange and difficult weeks. Nonetheless, new daily routines have begun to take shape. We are all eager for an end date; then we can resume hugging our friends, bumping into strangers without fear, and settling down onto the comforting carriage of a Springboard reformer. 

Isn’t it amazing to think that there is actually a generation of people living among us that does relate to an experience like this? While, of course, a pandemic like COVID-19 is unique, its effect on the daily lives of humans is remarkably similar to that of other events in our nation’s history.

At Springboard Pilates, one of our clients and her husband were gracious enough to share their memories of WWII and the polio epidemic with us via email. Miki and Don are in their eighties and are dedicated Pilates practitioners. Miki has been practicing for more than 20+ years. Here are her comments:

“This is so much more extreme than what we have lived through, but both of us jumped into our experiences with WWII with rationing and air raid drills (my dad was an air raid warden). If you didn’t have appropriate black out shades, you got a knock on the door and an order to put out the lights. Of course that came on the back of the Great Depression when we had folks knock on the door for food. I was very little and that did make an impression on me. As we walked about and played in the neighborhood we counted blue and gold star families.*

Our quarantine experiences had to do with childhood diseases and it was very common to see the yellow paper attached to a doorway which was a sign to stay away. Then for me it was the Polio epidemics which seemed to come every summer–very scary–you couldn’t go to any large gatherings, even the movies!!!! Which were an every Saturday afternoon affair, boo hoo! And no swimming in public pools. Then my 2-year-old nephew got it!  That was so sad–but he survived and we still talk about it today.”

* A Blue Star Family consists of the immediate family member(s) of a service member during a time of conflict. A Gold Star Family is the immediate family member(s) of a fallen service member who died while serving in a time of conflict.

Learn a little more about Miki and Don from their Client Corner interview back in 2014!

Miki and Don Murray.

Virtual Studio

Greetings!
The Springboard Pilates team has made the tough decision to close our big, heavy, squeaky door to preserve the safety and integrity of health in our community. As you’ve undoubtedly seen in posts, emails, messages from small business owners throughout the country, this is the right move to make despite the uncertainty and vulnerability it brings to us all. I found a quote today that shifted my perspective for a moment this morning and I’m going to try to carry it with me during these unprecedented times:

“Try this perspective shift. Instead of seeing ‘social distancing’ and and travel bans as panic, try seeing them as acts of mass cooperation intended to protect the whole. This plan is not about individuals going into hiding. It’s a global deep breath, an agreement between humans around the planet to be still. Be still, in hopes that the biggest wave can pass without engulfing too many of the vulnerable amongst us. ” -Dr. Lindsay Jernigan

While Springboard Pilates is closings its physical space, we are flinging wide open the doors of our virtual community. Our instructors are committed to the philosophy that “movement is medicine” and all believe that continuing to move is paramount to overall well being. The virtual studio we’ve set up is now open for you.Group Mat Classes and Private Mat Lessons are available via Zoom with the same high-quality standard of Pilates for which our team is known.

Virtual learning may be new to many people, but with unprecedented times comes unprecedented compassion, so we ask you to have patience with yourself and with us. We’re always open to your feedback and members of our team are available to walk you through this process. Here are the details:

Virtual Group Mat Classes and Private Mat Lessons

  1. Sign up for a Private Lesson directly with your teacher or for a Group Class through our website schedule. You’ll see these new classes listed on the schedule as Virtual Group Mat.
  2. Download the Zoom application on your device. (It can be accessed via website or mobile app.)
  3.  Check the microphone and camera settings on your computer. (Here’s a link to Zoom Help Center explaining this.)  
  4. Look for an email from Springboard Pilates with the link to the Zoom meeting 1 hr prior to the start of the class.
  5. Sign into the Zoom class.
  6. Enjoy your Springboard Pilates class or lesson from home!

Virtual Group Classes are drop-in only (no series). Both Virtual Group Classes and Private Lessons can be purchased via our MindBody system using credit, debit, or your Declining Balance.

Virtual Group Mat Class: $15/50 Minutes
Virtual Private Lessons: $60/50 minutes and $35/30 minutes

Previously purchased 6-week Group Class series will not cover virtual options. You have the option to be fully refunded the remaining amount for your 6-week group series OR you may choose to allow the amount to be absorbed into the instructor’s compensation. If you prefer a refund, please email Hilary at info@springboardpilates.com by March 27.

There is so much information not only in this email, but being given to us from numerous sources. If the Springboard Team can help you understand anything more thoroughly, please let us know. 

For General Questions: Meredith Coffin, owner, Springboard Pilates – meredith@springboardpilates.com | (207) 400-6691Hilary Dueben, office manager, Springboard Pilates – info@springboardpilates.com

For Zoom-Related Questions:Caitlin Brooke, semi-okay techie, Springboard Pilates – caitlin@springboardpilates.com |(207) 838-0984

For Virtual Private Lessons:

Ash, ash@springboardpilates.com | (207) 619-1962
Cathryn – cathryn@springboardpilates.com | (207) 233-6198
Caitlin – caitlin@springboardpilates.com | (207) 838-0984
Jen – jen@springboardpilates.com | (207) 712-1382
Meredith – meredith@springboardpilates.com | (207) 400-6691
Morgan – morgan@springboardpilates.com | (207) 730-3847
Pam – pam@springboardpilates.com | (207) 415-4257
Rori – rori@springboardpilates.com | (610) 733-7944
Emmy – emmy@springboardpilates.com | (207) 949-0048

I hope that you will choose to continue your Pilates practice whether with Springboard Pilates virtually or on your own. We are, as always, your biggest movement cheerleaders and will do everything we can to support you. We hope the virtual options will not only provide some physical exercise, but some social and mental “exercise” as well. The laughs, smiles, and stories we all share each week are immeasurable–our community so strong! (Feel free to share articles, stories, uplifting photos of kids/furkids on our Springboard Pilates Facebook page . )

Our greatest wishes for your continued health,

Meredith and the Springboard Pilates Team

P.S. If there is anything non-Pilates related with which we can help, please reach out. You are not alone when you are part of the Springboard community.

A Little Bit More with Amy Hershey, Pilates For Lyme Workshop Presenter

We’re excited to host Amy on Saturday, October 19 as she brings Pilates for Lyme Disease workshop to Springboard Pilates. Her expertise will give attendees not only movement specific take-aways, but we’ll all learn more about the intricate pathology of the disease. Even if none of your clients (or your circle of family/friends) has Lyme, the symptoms parallel many other conditions including: joint pain, muscle stiffness, fatigue, chronic pain/inflammation, and neck pain.

As residents of Maine, most of us are well aware of the prevalence of ticks and have been scared into furious tick-checks after a walk in the woods, but how many of us know how to support the mobility needs of those who have been affected? Be a litter wiser to the relief that Pilates can bring to those with both Lyme Disease and Post-Lyme recovery. Register now for the in-person workshop.

Amy is a wealth of knowledge and a pioneer in the field. Her training at The Pilates Center Boulder gives her an even deeper connection to Springboard Pilates and she was gracious enough to answer a few of our lingering questions about her path to Pilates for Lyme.


What fueled your career in movement? (And if you had a different career path before this, what was it?)
I actually fell into Pilates by happenstance. I was in college at the University of Colorado in Boulder and on a whim, decided to try Pilates because some fellow rock climbers said it helped improve their climbing. Of course, my first lesson was at The Pilates Center and from the beginning they encouraged me to do the training program. It took a few years but I eventually caved and am very grateful to how found such a rewarding career.

What has been the biggest challenge to your movement journey with Lyme Disease? 
My biggest challenge has been getting others to realize how widespread Lyme Disease is and how complex it is. There are so many symptoms possible, including neurological, and every person is going to present differently. You have to be creative in how you approach and open to trying to strategies to help these people.

As you work with more and more clients with Lyme Disease (arthritis, etc.) what have you noticed as consistencies or things that always seem to help despite differences in bodies? 
As cliche as it may sound, moving always helps. I find that opening up the body and incorporating more extension movements seems to be a key.  It goes beyond physical and taps into a psychological component of living with chronic pain.   

What do you do for self care besides Pilates? (Snuggle puppies, drink delicious coffee, etc.)  I try and spend as much time as I can with my animals (I have 16!) and my baby boys (ages 4 years and 6 months). Animals and kids truly give you much needed perspective on what really matters in life.  

How do you think you training with The Pilates Center helped you with your current approach? Training with TPC gave me a solid foundation and the building blocks to understand movement and the human body. They instilled in me the notion that Pilates heals and I have taken that philosophy with me as I work with special populations and people living in chronic pain.  

Pilates for Lyme Disease Workshop

This workshop is the first of its kind in the fitness industry (beyond simply teaching Pilates) to offer a comprehensive review and strategy for working with students who are suffering and/or recovering from Lyme Disease! The Pilates for Lyme Disease workshop covers the illness in depth and the complexities of the disease that make it challenging. Participants will learn the ins and outs of Lyme Disease and walk away with the confidence and tools to work with this expanding population. As part of this course, we will:

-Review Lyme Disease pathology, treatment, and recovery strategies for working with clients.

-Address painful symptoms associated with both Lyme Disease and Post-Lyme recovery and learn ways to alleviate the discomforts using a Pilates-based approach.

-Teach Pilates-based exercises to address many of the most common symptoms of Lyme Disease, including: joint pain, muscle stiffness, fatigue, chronic pain/inflammation, and neck pain

-Understand Neurological Lyme Disease and how to address the physical symptoms such as balance, gait problems, vertigo, and potential nerve damage-related issues. An additional benefit of this workshop is that the material covered can also be applied to your regular students. Because Lyme Disease has so many symptoms and potential complications, you will find that many of its symptoms we address will easily apply to non-Lyme clients.

  • arthritis
  • joint and muscle pain (specifically focusing on knees, hips, elbows, shoulders)
  • neck pain/stiffness
  • balance
  • vertigo
  • neurological conditions (i.e M.S., ALS, etc)

Saturday, October 19, 2019 at Springboard Pilates

COURSE COST: $325 (Early bird pricing $285 through August 15, 2019)

*6 Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Continuing Education Credits (CECs)

*6 The Pilates Center (TPC) Master’s Program (MP) credits

Register directly by clicking here: https://pilatesforlymedisease.com/product/pilates-for-lyme-disease-workshop-portland-maine/

Clothing & Pilates, Part Deux

Hello there, lovely Springboard peeps!  Well, it’s September.  I’m writing this from the comfort of my cozy, pillow-strewn couch on an unhurried Sunday afternoon.  Today is a day for things like laundry and garage sweeping and lazy peach eating set to the soundtrack of 1960s sunshine pop.  The leaves are on the edge of turning, the insects have been singing down August, and there is a slight chill at dusk.  It’s hard to fathom, but the next series will take us within inches of the end of Daylight Savings Time!  And although I prefer cold temps and lots of the white stuff come December and January (and, therefore, try my best to keep my mouth shut around those of you who love your fleeting chance to bask in hot weather), even I am wondering where the heck summer went.  By now you’ve had your last beach days, hosted your last out-of-state guests, and, perhaps, have started stacking your wood.  I think three cords should do it. . . 

Did you click on that link, and are you feeling a little melancholy?  If your answer is yes, my evil plan worked, because now I’m about to perk y’all up.  This here blog post is the sequel to a piece I wrote almost three years ago about two of my favorite things.  Clothing!  Pilates!  Put them together, and you’ve got Clothing You Wear to Pilates!

To recap: occasionally a client asks where I got a certain especially great piece of studio wear.  It’s so fun to share info on some of my favorites with you!  Or, some of you might be treating yourself to your first pair of “real” leggings that are made for Pilates or yoga movement, and don’t know where to start or how much you might expect to pay for a decent pair.  I enjoy clothes shopping, and by now (four years into my teaching career at Springboard) I am familiar with the fit and performance of many brands of studio and athletic wear.  My belief is that we move better and with more confidence when our clothing fits well and is designed for the activity in which we’re engaging.  That said, I would never want our clients to feel that we care more about the price tag or brand of your studio duds than we care about you having a fun, rewarding, top quality lesson or group class.  And if this post piques your interest in any of these brands and you’re curious about how they’d fit you, I’m happy to compare measurements with you.  We will not be allowed to speak of our bodies in a critical manner if we have such a conversation.  Sorry; you’re beautiful.  Got it?  Good.

First up: spotlight on the company that makes my new favorite tops!

KiraGrace
https://www.kiragrace.com

I almost don’t dare breathe these words aloud.  I may have found the Holy Grail of tops at KiraGrace.  Yes!  For as long as I’ve been doing Pilates (14+ years now), I have been searching for a flattering studio top that will fit me just right around my narrow ribcage, provide support and pretty but not revealing coverage for my full bust, AND is designed in such a way that my not-small shoulders can actually fit through it comfortably.  Kind of a tall order, but it shouldn’t be THAT hard to find, right?

Let me regale you with a little story starring my not-small shoulders.  A few years ago, I was happily browsing at one of my favorite consignment stores.  I spied a sleeveless designer piece with beautiful green sequins on the deep sale rack, and though I had no special occasion on the horizon, thought it couldn’t hurt to try it on.  I added it to the armful of clothes I was lugging around, then ducked into a dressing room.  The top shimmered seductively as I held it up to the mirror.  I turned it from side to side, eyeballing its proportions.  It was a numerical size I was pretty sure would fit me.  As I took it off the hanger and slipped my arms inside, I could feel that no Spandex had been employed in its construction.  A stern voice in my head warned, “DON’T.  DO THIS.”  I hesitated for just a moment longer, then yanked it on.

The top fit me perfectly.  Too perfectly.  I struggled to raise my arms, feeling my shoulder blades press outward and strain the seams almost to the point of ripping.  My heart started to beat faster as I realized I might have just trapped myself; it seemed there would be no way to lift my arms high enough to get a good grip on the sides to remove the thing.  I stared at my stupid face in the mirror for several agonizing seconds.  I had a terrible vision of being forced to exit the dressing room to explain to one of the salespeople that I was stuck and would need assistance. I closed my eyes and silently begged the God of Too Tight Tops to please, please let me get out.

Maybe it was adrenaline.  Maybe it was the thought of the complete humiliation I’d feel if I had to ask for help.  I still don’t quite understand how I did it, but readers, I finally managed to squirm out of that gorgeous top without destroying it.  Now free, I took a deep, rip-expanding breath and returned it to its hanger, almost crying with relief.  No one else in the store ever knew what a tense scene had played out behind that dressing room curtain.  That sparkling garment had taken me hostage!  It was thus that I learned my disappointing lesson: there are just some tops I will never be able to wear, because my father was 6’ 3” and built like a swimmer, and I am his daughter, with his body, except with some feminine touches.  In the years since, I’ve never failed to employ the Shoulder Test before I recklessly force a top on.  “Nope,” I’ll say to myself as I place my arms through and feel zero give, “just stop right there.”

Where were we?  Oh yes – the miraculous tops at KiraGrace!  I believe that one of the founders of KiraGrace used to work for lululemon (I could be making this up).  And SPEAKING OF lululemon.  About a year ago, as I tried stuff on at lulu’s store in Boston’s Prudential Center, all I found were ill-placed micro-ruffles, un-asked-for mesh panels, and strangely tight upper arms.  “Am I too old for lulu now?” I thought to myself, feeling mild horror at the side and back views of everything I chose.  As I sank into a corner of the tiny dressing room, I listened to the perfectly fit twentysomething employees on the other side chatting in bubbly voices.  I slunk out without buying anything, feeling decidedly fortysomething.

To be fair, I still have several older workhorse lulu pieces that are in regular rotation in my studio wardrobe.  They feature great design and quality material!  But readers, the feeling is gone.  My heart now belongs to KiraGrace.  Over the course of about a month, I bought one, then two, then three, then FOUR tops.  I just couldn’t believe how well they fit and flattered me.  It helps that one of KiraGrace’s models has a similar build to mine: a little busty, with strong shoulders.  If you need any more convincing to at least check out this company, here are my favorite details: KiraGrace tops 1) fit my chest without mashing it and 2) are stylish enough that I would even consider wearing them to go out and 3) have soft, supportive bra shelves sewn in and 4) are long enough to cover me past my hip bones and 5) are made of compression material that is Spanx-like but not as aggressively smoothing and 6) appear to have been designed with middle-aged bodies in mind.  And, 7) is perhaps the greatest reason of them all: my shoulders fit through KiraGrace tops with complete ease!  My hair doesn’t even get mussed!  (Ha, you guys – I love that spellcheck didn’t bat an eye when I just typed “mussed.”  It’s a word, people.  Look it up.)

Note: KiraGrace also has leggings that look promising, but I need to get rid of one or two of the 793 other pairs in my closet before I allow myself to add more.

And speaking of all those pairs of leggings in my closet. . .there are cool, descriptive names for groups of animals, right?  A murder of crows.  An ostentation of peacocks.  A charm of foxes.  I’ve decided that the collective name for a group of stretchy pants is a MESS.  And I have such a large MESS of leggings that recently – more than once! – I came across a pair I had completely forgotten I owned.  When this happens – when I literally don’t remember that I possess certain items of clothing until I dredge them up from the depths of my closet – I am a) embarrassed and b) know the time is ripe for a good ol’ clothing swap.  Just get in there, clean things out, share the love.  For my special clothing swap friends out there, promise I’ll do this SOON.  As for leggings I’ve been wearing frequently, here are some of which I am fond:

alo yoga
https://www.aloyoga.com

Oh, alo yoga.  Your website is full of gorgeous six-foot-tall models doing amazing yoga things all over the place.  How can mere mortals hope to look as good in your garb?  However!  When I purchased the stylish High-Waist Moto Legging, I was very pleasantly surprised to find alo’s sizing quite generous.  Like most women I know, I love a pair of stretchy pants with a super high waist – it’s instantly slimming, holds me in where I feel the most jiggly, and keeps me covered if I bend my spine or hips to any degree.  That said, alo’s price tags can be daunting.  These are the most expensive leggings I own ($114 – ouch), but they absolutely do not pill, they have retained their shape like nobody’s business, and I never have to adjust them during class.  What more could you want?

Beyond Yoga
https://www.beyondyoga.com

Beyond Yoga has the softest, comfiest stuff out there, hands down.  My latest pair of midi length (in between calf and ankle) leggings from BY is made of their Plush Heather, a high stretch and recovery fabric that has an extremely soft texture and brushed face.  These leggings feel like heaven as you pull them on, have a nice chunky 5” waistband, and can be tossed right in the dryer on low after washing.  I feel like I sweat more serenely in these babies.  Generous sizing.  $69-$110, depending on length, how many inches of waist they give ya, and material.

teeki
https://teeki.com

When I first ran across teeki about four years ago, I was instantly smitten with their Love The Elephant Hot Pants design and promptly bought a magical, derrière-enhancing pair of my own.  teeki’s Hot Pants “fit like a second skin” (stealing this from their website; they do not lie), are made from recycled water bottles (check mark in the eco-friendly column), and come in so many trippy, hippy-pleasing patterns that you’ll have a hard time choosing just one design whether you are an actual hippy or just lean in that direction.  I just lean; the closest I came to being a hippy was when I was a freshman in college and acquired a pair of red harem pants that I took to wearing around campus while simultaneously not wearing shoes.  I may have also had an ankle bracelet with little brass bells?  My preppy roommate brought my aspirations after a barefoot lifestyle to a screeching halt one evening by asking to borrow the pants. . .for her Halloween costume.  But I digress!  My teeki Hot Pants have held up well through many washings, and I think they also look slammin’ outside the studio, paired with tall boots and a big sweater or tunic.  $72-$79.

Prana
https://www.prana.com

Hey Prana?  Thanks.  Thanks for churning out the same pretty good, decent-enough-looking-but-not-quite-magical yoga pants season after season.  Really!  If you’re ever feeling kind of normal and you’re doing a little online surfing and are mildly interested in spending not quite as much moolah on a pair of solid leggings that will just get the job done, flip on over to Prana.  Frequent online sales with generous discounts.  Definitely use the “zoom” feature if there is a pattern that catches your eye; it might be hideous.  Or it might be cooler than you thought!

 

And now, because it’s late and I’ve written quite a bit, I’m going to close by mentioning a handful of websites that are a little off the beaten path.  These are brands I’ve stumbled across because they were in my Facebook feed and I clicked, or our sweet trainee Elizabeth (now a graduate of The Pilates Center and a full-time college student) generously donated her castoffs from her awesome job at Shift on Market Street in Portland , or. . .who knows?  Some things just mysteriously crop up on my radar.

Garbe Luxe
https://garbeluxe.com

I found a yummy, perfectly stylish sweatshirt with three-quarter sleeves by Garbe Luxe at Shift, and then, because I liked it so much, went online and bought it in a second color.  These twin sweatshirts will be making lots of appearances at the studio and on the streets of Portland come cooler weather.

American Giant
https://www.american-giant.com/home

American Giant has perfected the manufacture of sweatpants and sweatshirts.  This stuff is the real deal, guys.  As of now, my closet contains their incredibly flattering kick flare pants, regular “weekend” sweatpants, a full zip hooded sweatshirt, and a full zip moto-style sweatshirt.  Fall can’t get here fast enough.  I am itching to slip on these chunky, cozy pieces of sheer sweatgoodness for errands, staying warm in the studio, and lounging about on Saturday mornings with my oatmeal.

LNA Clothing
https://www.lnaclothing.com

LNA is definitely a West Coast brand, and I can see how the asymmetrical stylings and plunging V-necks of their tees, tanks, tops, and sweaters might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the fabrics are high quality, and they drape beautifully.  Go ahead.  Be a little different!  After Amy Taylor Alpers’ Portland workshop last month (Amy is the founder, along with her sister Rachel Taylor Segel, of The Pilates Center in Boulder, CO) and her use of a running cheetah as inspiration and imagery for teachers and clients alike, I’m sorely tempted by LNA’s leopard print this season.  I know leopards are not cheetahs, but close enough.

Lesley Evers
https://lesleyevers.com

Lesley is a California gal and real person who designs her own fabrics and then makes awesome dresses and separates from them; she’s the blonde woman with cute black eyeglasses modeling some of her looks on the website.  I have the Fiona in denim (https://lesleyevers.com/fiona-denim) and It. Is. Adorable.  I bet I could even do a Teaser wearing it.  I could definitely crank out The Hundred in my Fiona.  Throw in a cardigan, thick tights, tall boots, and hot apple cider, and you’ve got a perfect Fall Hundred.

 

Well, lovelies, that’s about it for now.  I hope this has been as fun for you as it has been for me!  And look – I realize there are far more pressing things in our lives than buying a new outfit for the studio, but sometimes a little diversion is in order.  It’s almost time to start thinking about the holidays, too, and this blog post is full of handy links you can shoot over to your loved ones and friends who might be wanting to shop for you (or themselves!).

 

Remember: email or text me with questions about sizing and fit.  We’ll get you fixed right up.  Happy fall, everyone!

Free (Wo)man in Paris

So I have a confession to make: it’s possible that I didn’t do any Pilates exercises while my husband and I were in Paris at the beginning of May. Sure, there was a morning, maybe our second day there, that I entertained the thought of leaving our comfy bed and busting out the Hundred and the Series of Five on the tiled floor of our rented bohemian loft. But that thought was quickly replaced by other thoughts. Thoughts like, “Where will we find our pains au chocolat today?” and “Bonjour! S’il vous plaît! Merci!” (yes, I energetically practiced my meager French over and over in my head for our entire trip) and “HOLY COCO CHANEL, I’M IN PARIS.” These thoughts came and went, and thus it was decided: that morning, and all the mornings I started my beautiful day in France’s capital city, would proceed sans Pilates.

Oh, I USED my Pilates while I was in Paris. Once you get Pilates in your bones (and muscles, and mind, and heart), I don’t think it’s possible to ever again move without a certain enhanced awareness of how you fit together so beautifully and harmoniously; to use that knowledge to power you smoothly through your day’s activities, whether it’s walking slowly along the Seine, browsing the dark green boxes of the famous bouquinistes (booksellers), or hiking the steep stairs to the glowing white Basilica of Sacré Cœur. From up there, you might pause to look out at the grand spread of Paris that gradually revealed itself as you climbed past charming terraced gardens. Who knows – maybe you’d also think about parting the crowds of tourists and throwing down a perfect Teaser in front of that sprawling view. Maybe you’d cajole your husband into taking a picture of you doing that perfect Teaser, your strong arms and legs reaching, your belly scooping, a radiant smile on your face. A Teaser atop the highest hill in Paris! Or maybe you wouldn’t have thought about your Teaser at all while you were in Paris. Maybe you’d conjure up that glorious little scene only when you were back home, sitting with tea and toast in your favorite Portland, Maine, café. Yep, I’ll let you guys decide what you think happened on that particular morning in France. Winking face emoji.

On our second afternoon in Paris, we rented bicycles with comfy wide seats, smooth leather grips, and upright handlebars. Both of us being pretty confident riders in city traffic, we hopped right on and set off with eagerness (but, shame on us, without helmets – do not try this at home). The sky was blue over our heads and the sun beamed down as we pressed on our pedals and sped along in the bike lane, giddy to be gliding by the throngs on the sidewalks and squeezed in next to the long buses and buzzing scooters that crowded the avenues. We pedaled and coasted, pedaled and coasted, taking stock of where we were at each road crossing. (And I cannot tell a lie: for the entire afternoon, I could not get the bike-riding scene from Flight of the Conchords’ “Foux Da Fa Fa” out of my head.)

Going by two wheels was a delightful way to see more of that magnificent city than we could possibly have covered on foot. We got close enough to the Eiffel Tower to snap a few photos; no, not the kind where we appear to be holding it or booping it on the top. (We are [mostly] dignified tourists.) We rode the length of the Champs-Élysées and watched, open-mouthed, as crazy people posed on a narrow median amid zooming traffic and took pictures of one another flashing peace signs in front of the imposing Arc de Triomphe. We stopped to load up our backpacks with fresh pasta salad, sweet sodas, and a wedge of strawberry tart from a small café where the kind woman behind the counter ran out waving an extra set of plastic cutlery right before we pushed off again. We eventually made our way to a large beautiful park that the bicycle company staff had pointed to on a map of Paris – a big green space that spread over one whole corner. Once there, we picked a spot by a duck pond bordered by wooden benches under tall trees, set our kickstands, and happily watched the slow progress of giggling couples manning rowboats on the water.

It was there, relaxing and eating strawberry tart, my muscles cooling off like a ticking engine, that I thought of my sitz bones, or, for all you anatomy geeks, my ischial tuberosities. (I know what you’re thinking: Yes! Finally, some Pilates!) The reason I thought of my sitz bones was because I’d neglected to bring padded bike shorts to Paris, and had recklessly chosen a pair of thin cotton leggings for our adventure. Despite maxing out the seat post on my wheeled steed, the wide leather seat still wasn’t quite high enough for my 5’ 9” frame, and I found myself unable to stop sliding forward as we pedaled along in a toe clip-less state. For every dozen or so pedal strokes, I’d scoot my derrière to perch as far back as possible before beginning the inevitable slump again. This repeated action, combined with a good four hours of riding with no padding, meant that I woke up the next morning with (what else?) pain au chocolat on my mind. Oh yes. AND a set of pretty tender spots nestled in by those bony protrusions. See? Sitz bones! Pilates! There!

All right: the Louvre. If you’re from America, you’re used to things being large. Our gas-guzzling cars, boxy and view-blocking, lumber down our vast streets. Our oversized houses contain so much space, often more than is really necessary to live our lives. Order an entrée in many restaurants, and you’ll likely end up being served food enough for two. Go ahead, ask yourself whether you really need to (or can) eat half a roasted chicken in one sitting. I’m waiting. No? So my point is, America is BIG. Big cars, big houses, big food. But the Louvre Palace, my friends. The Louvre is ENORMOUS. It stretches over an area of 782,910 square feet. 38,000 objects are exhibited within. (Thanks, Internet.) You walk by on the Left Bank of the Seine, looking over at it taking up the view. You look away for a bit, your attention caught by yet another style icon in an impeccable outfit. You fall into conversation with your husband. You cross a street. You spy the bouquinistes up ahead. You stop and politely ask one with sports memorabilia if he has a vintage Tour de France magazine c. 1974 that your husband hopes will have legendary Belgian rider Eddy Merckx on the cover. You check the map on your phone to see how much farther you’ll go until you arrive at the Musée d’Orsay. You’ve walked quite a long way now. You cross another street and look over and bam! The Louvre is still there! You haven’t finished walking by it yet!

We heeded the advice of some friends and decided to not even try to scratch the surface of this famous art museum and historic monument; we opted for just being impressed by its giganticness and gawking at it from the other side of the Seine. Oh, we’ll go back and tackle it. Maybe not right away, but I’m confident that this was not our only trip to the City of Light. In the meantime, be a dear and pass me another piece of bread slathered with Nutella, won’t you?

OK. Now for some serious thoughts. Like any of us, I love being away from my routine, and yet, at the end of a trip, I’m rarely sad that I have to go BACK to my routine. My life is full of wonderful people and places, and I do work that is meaningful to me. Really, I’m almost eager to get back so I can notice how my travels may have changed me – how they may have revealed a new facet of my being, or shown me an old one that needs polishing.

In Paris, I was pleased to rediscover that I like feminine things. I like pretty blouses and lipstick and a hint of perfume! (And reader, although I do try to abide by Springboard’s “no heavy fragrances, please” policy, I did indulge in the purchase of some gorgeous, special occasion perfume from a tiny brick-walled atelier close to the apartment we rented.) I was enraptured by the stylish but not fussy outfits on the women (and men) I saw, and the care with which people presented themselves felt different than the show-offy, look-at-me-I-just-came-from-exercise-class body-baring that we Americans tend to do. French women don’t have perfect bodies; what they DO have is a spot-on sense of how to dress for their figures.

And so, after being pleasantly immersed in the rhythm and romance of the streets of Paris for several days, I became convinced that celebrating my womanly figure, in all its middle-aged, weight-shifting, changing glory, was something I should try more of, instead of beating myself up over all the ways in which my body shows I’m no longer in my 20s. On our third day in France, I combed back my hair, carefully applied my makeup, donned a black cashmere top, put on my leg-lengthening, high-waisted kick-crop jeans, and sailed forth into our day’s activities in my wedge sandals and aviator sunglasses. Did I match the effortless style of the Parisians sweeping along the sidewalks? Well. . .non. But oui, I enjoyed trying. Paris, je t’aime!

An Afternoon with Andrea C. Spencer, LMT

It’s mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, and I’m climbing the carpeted stairs to the second floor where one of Andrea Spencer’s therapy rooms is located.  As I poke my head above the wide banister, I hear the soothing sound of gently trickling water coming from a small tabletop fountain. There is a feeling of hushed peace.  I pause to take off my shoes, and Andrea greets me cheerily as she tidies her cozy space after a client’s appointment. I settle on a low leather bench and relax as I breathe in the lightly scented air.  Antique and modern anatomy charts adorn the walls. A tall rectangular floor lamp to my left emits a soft glow. I’ve come today to conduct an informal interview with Andrea about her work as a Licensed Massage Therapist, and her connection to Springboard Pilates as a client and collaborator.

Andrea has now been doing massage for almost ten years.  She specializes in myofascial release and deep tissue therapies, and she is the founder of Apple Core Therapy, a complete wellness center located in Portland, Maine.  In her spare time, Andrea also joins forces with Meredith Coffin, Owner and Instructor at Springboard Pilates, in a unique bodywork-Pilates offering called the Reset Package.  (More on this later.)

I’ve known Andrea for about five years, and I always look forward to time spent in her presence – she’s calm, direct, and intuitive.  She laughs easily, a throaty, joyful sound. She has a love for companion dogs and animal rescue, and has two very special rescue pups at home.  Her brindle-colored American Standard Bulldog, Quinn, sometimes makes a guest appearance in her treatment room, where his gentle presence makes him a perfect unofficial therapy dog for the many clients who are just as enamored of him as Andrea is.

Andrea and I immediately start chatting as we unwrap our sandwiches from the café across the street.  My fingers fly over my keyboard as she talks, and we enjoy occasionally wandering off the path of the original question.  What follows is a version of her answers that I reluctantly whittled down to fit in this space.

THE NATURE OF ANDREA’S WORK, AND WHERE IT IS TAKING HER

Andrea is known in the Portland scene for her excellence in myofascial release and deep tissue; the fact that you may have to wait 4-6 weeks to get an appointment with her is proof of her popularity.  As we dive in to a deep discussion of these modalities that are her specialties, she explains that they are intensely physical, and often difficult for clients to accept at first. This leads the conversation to what will be a recurring theme: trust and empathy are of paramount importance in Andrea’s work. And while she stresses that she is in no way qualified as a talk therapist, she says that she has become much more comfortable over the years with clients shedding a few tears during their treatments – a favorable sign that they trust her and have let her “in.”

She notes that myofascial release helps people to deal with years of not countering poor body positioning (she calls this “cultural” posture) that results from working for long periods on computers, or driving instead of walking.  She also believes that poor posture can be directly related to unfavorable emotions. “Pain sometimes becomes an identity for people,” she says.

It is this undesirable pain-as-identity that gets her excited to be moving in the direction of therapeutic energy work that will help clients with their emotional needs.  We talk about one of her newest treatment offerings: a 26-pound heated infrared amethyst therapy biomat. Treatments using this soothing bed take place in a separate room from Andrea’s other services.  Clients can book 30, 60, or 90 minute hands-free sessions to lie on top of the heated bed, which creates a sauna-like atmosphere. The benefits are thought to be many, ranging from pain relief to lessening of symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Andrea also offers guided heated infrared amethyst therapy sessions, which incorporate craniosacral therapy (another one of her specialties), the use of healing stones, guided meditation, and verbal visualization.

Ultimately, she’d like her work to help people long past the end of the session, and she’d like her clients to be educated about their massage therapy and even start to understand the theories involved.  And while she thinks Western medicine has a very important place in our culture, she feels strongly that people should be thinking for themselves when it comes to their bodies. She points out that we only have one body for the rest of our lives, and believes we should know enough about it to take care of it ourselves – most or all of the time.

THE PILATES METHOD, SPRINGBOARD PILATES, AND THE RESET PACKAGE

I’m curious to know how Andrea was introduced to Pilates, and the Springboard studio.  She tells me that after learning about the Pilates method from her brother’s fiancée (now wife), she and a friend decided to try mat classes at Springboard.  Not long after those first classes, Andrea agreed to be the case study for a teacher who was furthering her Pilates education through one of the training programs offered by The Pilates Center of Boulder, Colorado.  (Springboard is a host studio for TPC.) She remembers that it was fascinating to observe this teacher growing more skilled at using her voice and cueing to teach Andrea the language of Pilates. “It was like, how do you get in there [a client’s brain] and make it make sense to them?”

I ask Andrea to press the fast-forward button from her time as a case study to a few years ago, when she and Meredith, who has been happily teaching Pilates for ten years and has owned Springboard Pilates for almost five years, came up with the Reset Package.  She describes how wanting to collaborate with her friend blossomed from her affection for Meredith. She laughs as she comments that the Reset is also in line with her dreams of creating her own modality. “It’s far-fetched, but it’s there.”

For readers who aren’t in the know, the Reset Package unites Andrea and Meredith’s passions and talents in a private, personalized two-hour workshop that is typically booked on a Saturday at the Springboard studio.  Each Reset begins with Andrea and Meredith carefully assessing a client’s posture as they move and walk, verbally sharing what they notice. As Andrea employs hands-on bodywork, Meredith continues to observe and take notes.  She also translates for the client, describing how what Andrea is doing will relate to the Pilates exercises that will come next.

In the Pilates portion, Meredith and Andrea decide together what to have the client do on either the Reformer or Cadillac (both pieces of equipment created by Joseph Pilates, and found in any Pilates studio worth its salt). Meredith then guides the client through exercises that have been specifically chosen to help train that client’s body in new movement patterns.

It is Meredith and Andrea’s belief that the two hours of undivided focus with each other and the client will help to press a “reset” button in the client’s mind and body.  Ultimately, they hope to empower people to walk out with 
newfound knowledge about their bodies and postural alignment that will keep them healthier and happier.

Andrea sees the Reset as being for people who love to learn, and for people who may want and/or need something to really be about them for two hours.  She loves the overall education that happens. When I ask her why someone would book one of these private workshops, Andrea is thoughtful for a moment and then says, “We’d take a whole lot better care of each other if we learned to take care of ourselves first.”  This strikes me as a wise observation, and one that reveals, once again, how compassion is at the heart of her work.

WHY ANDREA IS DOING WHAT SHE DOES

We talk a little about how Andrea’s current career is very different from other employment she’s had in the past.  She loves how massage therapy grounds her and connects her “. . .to health and to the positivity that humans have in them.”  She feels that the competitiveness of our culture and the near-constant stimulus from the many screens in our lives – laptops, televisions, and phones – is changing our brains.  We both remember childhoods in which we learned to tell time from analog clocks, sat still for long periods with a good book, and explored outdoors by ourselves, and wonder if those things are still possible for today’s kids.  She feels that anxiety is being passed on, and wants her work to be part of the antidote.

I ask Andrea to describe her favorite forms of self-care, and she gives me a pretty comprehensive list:  Pilates. Yin yoga. Walking. Getting bodywork. Getting lots of sleep. Other small pleasures (“A little bit of whiskey sometimes helps,” she says with a smile).  Enjoying the comfort and companionship of her dogs. It seems that she has arrived at this place in her life – doing work she loves, feeling grounded – by careful consideration of what does and does not makes her happy, and by not letting others’ expectations of her cloud her judgment or worry her.

We’ve spent almost two hours together now, and I have become more and more impressed by Andrea’s serious and passionate answers to my questions.  It’s clear that she thinks a great deal about how her work affects her own life and others’ lives, and I sense that she has taken massage therapy far beyond the confines of what she learned in school.

Several days after our interview, as I’m considering how I’ll organize my notes into something readable, it dawns on me:  the reason why Andrea is so good at what she does is that she knows WHY she’s doing her work. I’ve come to see this knowing as a hallmark of people who are exceptional at what they’ve chosen to do.  Even if that “why” has never been spoken aloud or shared with another human being, knowing it is half – or all – of the battle. And when people know the why, they contribute in positive and beautiful ways to their communities.  If you know Andrea, you’ve seen and felt this positivity, and if you’re a lucky client, you’ve felt the warmth and strength of her skilled touch. May we all, in time, find the answer to that WHY.

To find out more about Andrea’s services and to book an appointment, please visit Apple Core Therapy’s website at www.applecoretherapy.com.

Spots in the Summer Reset Packages are available on the following days: Saturday, July 14th 11 a.m.,  Saturday, August 4th 11 a.m., Friday, August 24th at 3 p.m.,  and Saturday, August 25th 11 a.m.  Please email info@springboardpilates.com or sign-up on Mind Body to reserve your spot!

 

 

An Inside Look at Springboard Pilates

It’s Friday morning at Springboard Pilates, and there’s a happy vibe in the air. The door beep-beeps over and over as clients crowd in for their weekly fix of Dave Reese, P.T.’s mat class. The small entryway is a polite chaos of bodies. Coats and hats come off; boots and shoes are shucked. Clients say their hellos and share quick embraces. Laughter and chatter rise and carry across the floor to the cushy mats, where folks stake out their space for the next 50 minutes. Foam rollers, TheraBands, short lengths of stiff bamboo, and tennis balls come out of the props closet and are employed to help stretch and warm muscles before class starts. The water cooler gurgles as bottles are topped up and glasses are filled. A client stands sideways and gracefully kicks forward and back, revealing the ballet training that still shows in her turned-out legs and pointed feet. There are decades of lives lived here – the collective age may add up to well over 300 years. Each unique body, whatever its perceived limitations, has been brought into the studio with an eager mind and spirit at the helm. These long-time regulars are about to willingly submit to Dave’s special blend of “fusion” exercises, which incorporate elements of yoga, Pilates, martial arts, and plain old boot camp. Dave, a spry and fit somewhere-past-middle-age, will soon be punctuating his gut-busting sets with silly jokes, warm encouragement, and sly asides.

It’s not just Dave’s unique class that brings clients to the studio; today and every day of the week, there are also private or semi-private lessons going on in our space. Some clients have a standing weekly appointment to work individually with one of Springboard’s well-trained and dedicated teachers. Other clients are happy learning in a group class setting most of the time, but may have decided they’d like to tackle outside of class an exercise that seems particularly difficult. Maybe they have never used the machines and don’t know that many exercises also have versions performed on the Chair, Reformer, and Cadillac. Maybe they have noticed something about their own movement patterns that just seems “off.” These are great reasons to book a one-time (or once a month?) “tune up” private! Yes, private instruction is less budget-friendly than a group class, but a private lesson can be a hugely rewarding and enriching experience for both teacher and client.

Consider the far-reaching effects that even one 50-minute lesson can have: that difficult exercise can be broken down into parts so that it seems less daunting, and the client now has the confidence to work on the movement skills required for the exercise (and may also start to see how those same movement skills show up in other exercises). A mat class-only client may get the opportunity to deepen her understanding of the feel and form of an exercise on the Reformer, and then bring that new understanding with her the next time she comes to mat class. Exploring together, a curious and attentive teacher and client can examine that “off” movement pattern. . .and maybe something softens, feels strengthened, or feels connected to for the first time through the use of creative cues, a prop, or the resistance of springs.

Pilates teachers are not doctors and cannot (and are expressly forbidden to) diagnose physical conditions, but we are very good at noticing where movement seems (among other things) stuck, not sequential, or not bilateral, and we go right to work with the tools in our toolbox – all afforded to us through the genius of the classical Pilates method. And when our clients experience the excitement of an “Aha!” moment in a lesson – when the sun breaks through the clouds and movement feels different or better, we teachers are just as excited.

Returning to the lively scene that is Friday mornings at Springboard, every week at the ten o’clock hour, most or all of our teachers gather for “Teacher Time” – a wide-ranging, round table discussion about some aspect of our work as movement teachers. You may see us settling in around a Reformer or two, mugs of tea warming our hands, as we turn our attention to the topic for that week. These rap sessions are led by Meredith Coffin, Springboard’s owner, and the topics cover anything from breaking down how we approach teaching a particular exercise from basic to advanced skill levels (Teaser, anyone?), to comparing the same exercise taught on three different pieces of equipment, to brushing up on anatomy, to revisiting Joe Pilates’ seminal work Return to Life Through Contrology. Getting on the equipment or the mat to explore an exercise we’ve just discussed is sometimes part of the hour. The reward for carving out this time for ourselves is that we often make new, in the moment connections about some aspect of the Pilates method. Our hope is that this leads to our clients always being on the receiving end of intelligent, well-informed, adaptable teaching. . .which sometimes sounds like a teacher having the confidence to say, “Hmm! Good question! I don’t know the answer right now. Let’s explore this!”

By early afternoon on Fridays at Springboard, the last few private lessons are winding down. The studio’s warm red walls and gleaming polished concrete floor have absorbed the energy, inspiration, and joy of approximately 75 hours of collective teaching over the last week. The cushy mats are in a neat row along the baseboard underneath the burlap-covered wall, and the Reformers recline in the sunshine streaming through the windows that look out on Pine Street. Our hope is that, over the weekend, the clients who have passed through Springboard’s doors will think back to their lessons as they go about their activities. Maybe they’ll think of us as they bend deeply at their hips to sit down on the floor and scoop a grandchild close – and then easily rise up from the floor once playtime is over. Or maybe they’ll think of us as they effortlessly lift a grocery bag to the counter and unload its contents into cupboards and the refrigerator, smoothly bending and twisting. Or maybe – just maybe – they’ll think of us as they cartwheel across the lawn with strong, straight arms, an engaged core, and softly-pointed feet. We have a feeling that Mr. Pilates would be proud.